Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A MATHEMATICAL PROBLEM, by SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE



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A MATHEMATICAL PROBLEM, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: On a given finite line
Last Line: Tis raised upon a. B. The straight, the given line.


If Pegasus will let thee only ride him,
Spurning my clumsy efforts to o'erstride him,
Some fresh expedient the Muse will try,
And walk on stilts, although she cannot fly.

I

On a given finite line
Which must no way incline;
To describe an equi --
-- lateral Tri --
-- A, N, G, E, L, E.
Now let A. B.
Be the given line
Which must no way incline;
The great Mathematician
Makes this Requisition,
That we describe an Equi --
-- lateral Tri --
-- angle on it;
Aid us Reason -- aid us Wit!

II

From the centre A. at the distance A. B.
Describe the circle B. C. D.
At the distance B. A. from B. the centre
The round A. C. E. to describe boldly venture.
(Third postulate see.)
And from the point C.
In which the circles make a pother
Cutting and slashing one another,
Bid the straight lines a journeying go.
C. A. C. B. those lines will show
To the points, which by A. B. are reckon'd,
And postulate the second
For Authority ye know.
A. B. C.
Triumphant shall be
An Equilateral Triangle,
Not Peter Pindar carp, nor Zoilus can wrangle.

III

Because the point A. is the centre
Of the circle B. C. D.
And because the point B. is the centre
Of the circular A. C. E.
A. C. to A. B. and B. C. to B. A.
Harmoniously equal for ever must stay;
Then C. A. and B. C.
Both extend the kind hand
To the basis A. B,
Unambitiously join'd in Equality's Band.
But to the same powers, when two powers are equal,
My mind forebodes the sequel;
My mind does some celestial impulse teach,
And equalizes each to each.
Thus C. A. with B. C. strikes the same sure alliance,
That C. A. and B. C. had with A. B. before;
And in mutual affiance
None attempting to soar
Above another,
The unanimous three
C. A. and B. C. and A. B.
All are equal, each to his brother,
Preserving the balance of power so true:
Ah! the like would the proud Autocratix do!
At taxes impending not Britain would tremble,
Nor Prussia struggle her fear to dissemble;
Nor the Mah'met-sprung wight
The great Mussulman
Would stain his Divan
With Urine the soft-flowing daughter of Fright.


IV

But rein your stallion in, too daring Nine!
Should Empires bloat the scientific line?
Or with dishevell'd hair all madly do ye run
For transport that your task is done?
For done it is -- the cause is tried!
And Proposition, gentle maid,
Who soothly ask'd stern Demonstration's aid,
Has prov'd her right, and A. B. C.
Of Angles three
Is shown to be of equal side;
And now our weary steed to rest in fine,
'Tis raised upon A. B. the straight, the given line.






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